Obstacles to Saving Among Economically Vulnerable Women

Published: 2008
Project ID: UM08-Q3


How do low-income households think about saving? What motivations do they identify for saving, and what obstacles to meeting their goals? We use data from qualitative interviews with 51 households in Detroit to shed light on these questions. We find that they wish they could save – primarily for protection against the unexpected or to put children through college – but that most of them cannot. Friends and family surface as a major obstacle to saving, since those who have liquid assets are asked for help. When savings is feasible in this population, it occurs largely through relatively inaccessible vehicles such as pensions and 401Ks.